Merry Christmas 2015

Merry Christmas from the B’s!

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The highlight reel of our 2015 is unbelievable. Between the four of us, we’ve hit Europe, South America, Mexico, and the U.S.A. What a crazy year!

David and Joey embarked on a “rite of passage” trip to the United Kingdom in honor of Joey’s 16th birthday. He’s quite the young man: driving, taking college classes, and even teaching. Joey planned the entire UK trip, including Scotland, London, Dover, and sunrise at Stonehenge on the Solstice. It was the trip of a lifetime. We even ended up on Google Street View on Downing Street!

While the older boys were in Europe, Christy and Will took a cruise to Mexico. It was a laid-back trip full of sun, sea, sand, and scrumptious treats. Will planned the excursions and even convinced Christy to let him bring a friend. He’s smart, funny, handsome, persuasive, and compassionate.

David and Christy went to Brazil for the fifth ustime. This was their 5th chapel-build, with plans to return again in 2016. Each trip is a unique and beautiful experience full of miracles and adventure. These trips have been so incredible that in 2016 all four of us are planning to go! We have no idea how the $$$ will work out, but our generous friends, family, and God have always helped get us there.

 

There’s so much more to say… Joey is looking at colleges and dreaming about MIT. Will is falling in love with the art of writing. Christy loves impacting lives as a science teacher. David is attending seminary and was licensed by the church. He even performed a wedding. God continues to prove the depths of His love and His sense of humor!

Our holiday prayer is that your lives are rich with the fullness of life with God.

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The trip. Part One

It’s time to go. I’ll be in London tomorrow.IMG_4121

A few years ago I hatched a plan. It was crazy. Extravagant. Audacious. Inspired by my friends Walker and Mark, with a little help from a couple of experiences with “Raising a Modern Day Knight,” I decided to take each of my sons on a father/son rite-of-passage “welcome to manhood” adventure.

The rules were simple. The year they turn 16, we would take a father/son trip anywhere in the world. They would be the “Team Leader,” taking on the responsibility of planning the trip, setting the itinerary, and making sure we got great deals. I would play the role of adviser and angel investor.IMG_3642

He was so little when the plan was hatched. Where did the time go? The day for the trip is here, the adventure has quickly turned from fantasy to reality.

I’ve heard “must be nice” comments about our trip from others. Ten days in the UK? Sunrise at Stonehenge on the Summer Solstice? Overnight train to the highlands of Scotland? They’re looking at the finished product. They are ignoring the humble beginning.

 

Here are a few behind the scenes key points:

  1. Get intentional. Unforgettable things rarely happen on accident, particularly good ones. Make the decision. Write it down. In my case, it was a decision to do something meaningful, memorable, and significant with my sons before they left the house. It’s not just about one trip either, it was a decision to be intentional about fatherhood.
  2. Make a reasonable plan. Because of what I do, how I’m compensated, and the lifestyle we live, I knew that “anywhere in the world’ was a reasonable plan for us. We can’t do it every year, but with enough warning, we can make “anywhere” happen. Not everyone can. That’s okay. There are mind-blowing sights within a couple of days drive of where you live, no matter where you live. A rental car (or van) is more affordable than an airline ticket. As long as you ditch the electronics, a lot of bonding can happen on the road. The adventure is in the journey, not the destination.
  3. Think long-term and take baby steps. Sunrise at Stonehenge on the solstice doesn’t sound reasonable. It isn’t–if it’s an impulse. With a couple years of warning, though, amazing things are possible. Cut back on the premium TV channels and funnel that money into a savings account. Tax refunds or bonuses? Don’t buy that 50-inch TV or the fishing boat…put it into the dream account. Twenty dollars a month adds up to nearly $500 in two years. Every little bit helps. You have to think long-term.
  4. Adjust as necessary. In my head, my son would’ve been a project manager. I wouldn’t have done anything. He would have had budgets and spreadsheets. There would have been multiple options, all color-coded with their respective strengths highlighted in yellow and weaknesses highlighted blue. He would’ve worked a job (preferably for a company he started himself) to help pay for the trip. But one thing I learned through this process…he already works hard. He earned straight As in school, held parts in multiple dramatic productions, learned three instruments, played in two bands, and taught himself how to program. I wouldn’t ask him to drop any of that to start a lawn mowing business. My expectations were too high. So I adjusted. I started off putting the responsibility for driving this project entirely on him. When I made it a “we” project instead, things came together quite quickly. I scheduled a weekly meeting with him. During our meeting, he’d share what he had found and what direction he was leaning on important decisions. I’d offer advice and give him goals for the next week. It worked beautifully. In hindsight, it was exactly how things should have been running all along!

And now, we’re about to embark. Two parts of the the family are headed across the pond while the other two remain domestic. The adventure begins.

“I don’t remember getting older…. when did they?”

A Christmas List

We all have things we’d like in our lives. Places to go, people to see, and adventures to have. A friend of mine calls these “bucket thoughts.” When we write them down, they transform into bucket lists. Once written, incredible things happen. As 2014 comes to a close, here is a peek at our lists.


Will’s List:

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  • Become a Piano wizard (check!)
  • Ride a bike everywhere (check!)
  • Catch a Harris’s Hawk on my arm (check!)
  • Watch classic Twilight Zone (check!)
  • Pull multiple all-nighters (check!)
  • Read Lots of books (check!)
  • Blow stuff up (check!)
  • Caribbean cruise (not yet!)

 

Joey’s List:IMG_4631

  • Become a guitar hero, join a band (check!)
  • Get Driving Permit (check!)
  • Mission trip to Belize (check!)
  • Invent stuff (check!)
  • Go to prom. Dance. (check! oh yeah!)
  • Washington D.C. (check!)
  • Read Sherlock Holmes (check!)
  • Go to England (#soon)

 

Christy’s List:IMG_7290

  • Visit the floor of the Grand Canyon (check!)
  • Fill young minds with science, math, and character (check!)
  • Help 2 kids get driving permits (check!)
  • Help a kiddo graduate high school (check!)
  • Drive a jet ski (check!)
  • Touch the ocean on a beach in Brazil (check!)
  • Go to Jamaica (next year!)

 

David’s List:

  • Take pictures, tell stories (check!)
  • Secure the interwebs (check! Ongoing…)
  • Brazil, Vegas, Branson, Houston, Dallas (check!)
  • Chaplain at the State Fair (check!)
  • Start Grad School (check!)
  • Publish a book (check!)
  • Ride in a helicopter (check!)
  • See Stonehenge (See you next solstice!)

 

It’s definitely been an awesome year! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

The Bouchards

 

Life through the Glass

Glass Wall

The view from my glass wall

As I browse the internet, I see article after article lamenting the fact that people are missing out on life because they’re too busy snapping pictures. There are videos demonstrating people missing relationships and experiences because they are too busy obsessing over their phone. Yes, those articles and videos make some good points. Relationships matter. Life is meant to be lived, so live it. Or as I always say…  Have adventures. Tell stories. My story is different.

My Canon SX50 HS came wrapped in pretty paper on Christmas morning of 2012. Instead of isolation, though, owning a camera with 50x zoom has driven me more deeply into adventure. It has connected me not only with LIFE but with OTHERS. It helps me to tell the stories.

The first week I owned that camera, I found myself taking my boys on long hikes. We explored. Sure, a better father than me might have already doing this. I wasn’t. Until I got that camera. That glass had power that went way beyond magnification. We started having adventures again. Together. We went places we hadn’t been before. We saw things that most people don’t see. And we took others along when we could.

Instead of undermining relationships, the camera has built new bridges. Although it might be hard to imagine now, on Christmas Day 2012 I could identify about 3 different types of bird. But 50x zoom has a way of making birds pretty interesting. My dad has always been a birder for a long time, though. My fascination has given us a new common ground to tread together. I can send him pictures and he’ll help me ID them. When we get together, we enjoy spending the day outdoors hunting birds together. Exploring the world while having fun together.

Oh, and the joy of a new-found perspective! Periodically seeing life through a new lens has altered the way I see life even when the camera isn’t around. I notice light in ways I hadn’t before. The sun shining through the fog. Rays reflecting off a cloud after the sun has already set. The golden hour. A dragonfly or a bee. My son points out things he notices, too, like a frozen drop of dew on a blade of grass. There is beauty everywhere. Just owning this magical looking glass helps me to slow down and notice.

Not just experiencing life…the camera has helped to cope with life at times. When the dog died, a photo walk was a great excuse to get out and get moving. Quietly meandering along the river provided time and space to process the loss. It’s also been a catalyst for sunset photo walks with my sweetie…a great way to carving out time to spend with each other.

Rather than separating us from our experiences, pictures capture those incredible moments in time and allow us to relive them again and again.

"Dad"

“Dad”

Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe my kids won’t remember what I look like in their memories. They’ll only remember me with a glass wall in front of my face. That guy that always was around documenting life but never living it. I don’t think so, though. I’ve seen and appreciated more sunsets and sunrises with the camera than I ever did without. I’ve noticed more beauty in this world, which has a way of changing not only perspective, but outlook on life. A side-effect of this looking glass has been joy. Contentment. Satisfaction. Connectedness. It has opened up the world of this introvert to a innumerable new relationships. Looking through this glass has led to adventure…not just for me but for the kids. We’re all having adventures and telling stories. It’s beautiful.

Just Start

StartI’ve heard it said, “The days are long but the years are short”. One year ago I stepped into an experiment. It was a call to do more, be more, and pursue a dream. I’m a dreamer. Hidden underneath my quiet exterior is a risk taker. I dove in.

But what can happen in a year?

Community. More than anything, this year has been about relationships. A side-effect of the experiment has been the “Tulsa 5 Club.” We meet every Friday morning at 5AM at the Village Inn on Harvard Avenue. We’re all pursuing personal goals and dreams. Encouragement helps. Even more, though, we’re community. We’re family. Tears of laughter and tears of sorrow have been shared over bacon and coffee. Just yesterday I posted “I love us” to them and I meant it more deeply than even I expected. I look around the table and there’s not a single person I wouldn’t take a bullet for. I believe in them, I believe in their dreams, and I believe in their futures. I believe they will change the world for the better, and I’m honored and humbled that they let me hang with them. And we’re not exclusive. As new people join us, they are immediately welcomed in like long lost family.StrongerCoffee5

Oh, but it gets better. We wrote and published a book. Who does that? Well, the Tulsa 5 Club did. Then we organized and hosted a conference. It was a life-changing gathering of visionaries…sharing dreams and feeding off each others’ passion. It was energizing. We’re already looking forward to the next one.

Personally, I’ve always been a bit…unfocused…when dreaming. My initial “Risk” was obedience. That sounds pretty odd, but it’s true. You can read more about it here. The journey led me to some unexpected places. My walk with God has always led me on adventures into the unknown that far surpass my own vision.

IMG_0183So I wrote. And I finished. I invested in others. I took pictures. I taught. I went on a mission trip. We brought a kiddo into our family. We watched her leave 9 months later.

Basically, I had adventures. Then I told stories.

Over the entire year I struggled to define “my thing.” My twitter bio used to say “Defies classification and cannot be stereotyped.” Here I was…trying to classify myself. Trying to find the right box to put myself in. I continued to pursue. I continued to attempt to obey. I discovered I don’t have a box-shaped life.

Then I spoke. I presented at our conference. Between the presentation prep and then soaking in the other extraordinary speakers, the fog lifted. The answer is “YES.” All that. All those things…the community, writing, photography, adventures, and–most important–obedience…they all combine into “me.” It’s something that I can share with the world.

Now one year in, I’ve found clarity. I’ve got a mission. Dare I say…I’ve got a brand?

Have adventures. Tell stories.

That’s my life. That’s my story.

Tell Stores

Have adventures. Tell stories.

Went to the Zoo, Zoo, Zoo

In late May the teachers let the monkeys out. So we took them to the zoo.

The zoo is a great place to get some great family time while also taking advantage of unique photographic opportunities. Stripes on a tiger, vivid flamingos, and playful monkey expressions are fun to capture.

Outside the cage:

 Inside the cage: